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EXCLUSIVE Interview with Gipsy of Discovery's New Series THE DEVILS RIDE

Mike Vicic - May 8, 2012





Gipsy, the founder and long-time President of the Laffing Devils motorcycle club (MC) featured on Discovery's new series THE DEVILS RIDE, spoke with TV Tango about life in a nomad MC. Gipsy revealed details about his run-ins with the ATF and NCIS, discussed outlaw clubs, and shared one of his favorite charity rides



Tonight, Tuesday, May 8, 2012 at 10pm ET/PT, Discovery presents the world premiere of its new series THE DEVILS RIDE.


TV Tango: How old are the Laffing Devils? Why did you decide to start your own club?

Gipsy: The Laffing Devils are going on five-and-a-half years.


I started the club just because myself and four other friends of mine wanted a club that was kind of our own that we believed in. It started out as a divorced guys club. All the guys were divorced and we just sat around and bitched about our ex-wives and stuff. It kind of got started that way.


We had such a good rapport with each other and brotherhood with each other that we didn't want to break that apart and go our separate ways or go on to another club where we'd have to follow somebody else. We kind of wanted to set our own pace and just be our own.

TV Tango: Besides helping you with your divorce, did the MC also help you deal with the emotional scars of being in the military?

Gipsy: Yes, in fact, two of the founding five are former military. The other is former Marine Corp, like myself. Not combat. But just the brotherhood of being with somebody and hanging out with friends that don't judge you.


People who have never been in the military don't know what it's like to have PTSD because there are several forms of it. When you're with like-minded people, you bond closer together because they understand where you're coming from. Those people, my friends, know people who have been Vietnam vets. And just getting out there and being together.


That's not to say, that being on the bike is also therapy in itself for me. Getting out there doesn't make my issues go away, but it kind of gives me a Fortress of Solitude on my bike to get out there and melt away the issues for a while.


TV Tango: What was your background in the military?

Gipsy: I'm former U.S. Marine, 13 years combat veteran. I loved it. I loved every day in the Marine Corp. I served here in Camp Pendleton, California and also in Washington state. I did two years in Washington and then I did the rest of my time in Camp Pendleton.

TV Tango: When you started The Laffing Devils, why did you start it as a nomad club?

Gipsy: The reason why we started it as a nomad club is that we didn't have a homebase, per sey. Usually, bottom rockers claim a territory. We started off as nomads and we are keeping it consistently as a nomad club, because we don't claim anything. We ride everywhere, and we get along with everybody; so we don't throw a barrier to our club.

TV Tango: Does that mean that the Laffing Devils don't have a rival motorcycle club?

Gipsy: You know, we don't. We get along very well with most major MCs. Most minor MCs that are big respect us very well. We've never had real big issues. I guess our biggest enemy would be law enforcement.

TV Tango: What type of issues have you had with law enforcement?

Gipsy: Issues? Oh, my god! I, myself, have been pulled over more than 30 times.


I've been pulled over by San Diego Sheriff at gunpoint for not using my signal. Being in the military, I cross-trained with a lot of law enforcement agencies and I know their code system. As soon as he pulled me over, he had his gun out and told me to stay on the bike and put my hands on the bars. And then he calls an 11-99, which means cover now. That means an officer is in trouble. He had back-up there with lights and sirens. I was like, "I'm one person, and yes I have a patch on my back, but I was not aggressive."

I'm always respectful when an officer pulls me over until they turn into being disrespectful. I know they have a job to do -- and I'll support that -- but when they start taking it upon themselves to assume that you're a criminal, just because of the way you look or because your ride a motorcycle or because you wear a patch on your back, it's like the law goes out the window. Now they're just dealing with themselves and it's kind of vigilantism.


TV Tango: That was with the sheriff, have you had any problems with the Feds?

Gipsy: Oh, yeah. Hell, yes. We've been on several motorcycle rides with other clubs, supporting their rides. We got pulled over en masse on the freeway. We were 20+ deep going down the 125 Freeway, here in San Diego. We got pulled over by San Diego PD, in conjunction with ATF and NCIS, because there are military members who are still on active duty. They pulled us all over. They closed down two lanes of a three-lane freeway -- for no reason. They surrounded us, pulled us over, and checked everybody. No ticket given. Nobody was arrested. Nobody got towed. Everybody had their stuff in line -- registration, insurance and things like that. We were there for over an hour-and-a-half. It was ridiculous.


We've been hounded by San Diego Gang Task Force.


We support other clubs that might be under the scrutiny of the Feds, then we get followed because we were at their event, which is fine because they can dig as deep as they want, but they're never going to find us doing anything illegal.

TV Tango: You've talked about the patch. What's the history of the club's patch?

Gipsy: The center patch is, of course, the laughing devil. My son drew the prototype for that, and then we had it digitized.


The name, Laffing Devils, came from when me and the founding five were outside a bar, giggling like schoolgirls. We were just out there having a good time. That was the consistent mainstay of everything we did. We were always laughing, always joking on each other, always going at it. This little old lady came out of the bar -- it was in the middle of the day, like the afternoon -- and she goes, "Oh, my god, you guys are just a bunch of laughing devils." We just kind of all looked at each other and went, "Oh, my god," because we had talked about having a club prior to that, but we just couldn't come up with a decent name.


We didn't want anything like Bashers. Laffing Devils has a nice ring to it, and it doesn't promote anything negative.

TV Tango: Since the Laffing Devils doesn't have the outlaw connotation to it, what is your reaction when people call you an outlaw club?

Gipsy: I've heard varying opinions about what makes an outlaw club an outlaw club. Sometimes, it's just the fact the we don't believe in certain rules and regulations. You just kind of live life by the seat of your pants and ride like crazy. Some believe it's criminal activity. Some believe just because of the way your patches are made up -- you have a top rocker, a bottom rocker and a center patch. OK, you're a three-piece patch, so you're automatically deemed outlaw or 1%er.

When people say that to me, I laugh. First, he's judging me just based on what they see on GANGLAND or what they see on National Geographic, saying this is a three-piece patch and what it means. They're claiming a territory, and they're pissing off these people.


I've been involved with this community in one way or another for over 30 years, and it just make me laugh every time I hear it because it's the same thing.


A lot of it is law enforcement and what they interpret. Then they make it the mainstay for everything. Like a lot of bikers, especially club bikers, I don't think that I should have to defend myself from everybody scrutinizing me. It's like, "You believe what you want." I know my lifestyle. I know what I do everyday. If you want to believe what you want to believe, then you go right ahead. As for me, I know what I'm doing, so I feel right to say, "Piss off." If that's the way you want to be about it, then fine.

TV Tango: What do members of the Laffing Devils typically do for work?

Gipsy: It's a broad spectrum. We got guys who work corporate jobs with main companies. Miltary. There are mechanics. There are several people who own their own businesses, like an auto-body shop or a carpet-cleaning shop. It's not one thing or another.


We don't have any lawyers or doctors -- yet.

All hard-working guys. Most of them are family guys and have kids, which is one thing we greatly promote -- family cohesion -- and involve them with and without the club. When we have a club event -- unless it's at a bar where children are not permitted to be -- it's about the family, bringing everyone together. Kind of holding everybody accountable for their family as well.


TV Tango: How many women are in the Laffing Devils?

Gipsy: There are no women members. We're a traditional motorcycle club, and that tradition is just only men.

TV Tango: What's the most popular ride in the Laffing Devils?

Gipsy: The most popular ride is the one that we invented, called Tombstone. The Devils get together every year during the May timeframe and ride out to Tombstone, Arizona as a club and have fun for the whole weekend. We bring our families out with us, and we have a great time. It's an old western town, and it's kind of a throwback to the old BONANZA days, seeing all the guys dressed up in Wyatt Earp gear and stuff like that.

TV Tango: What's the most popular bike in the club?

Gipsy: I think that one of the main bikes, because of the riding that the club does, is a Street Glide. It has the front fairing; it's extremely comfortable. I, myself, have a Little King, which is also a bagger, but it doesn't have the front fairing or anything on it. We have guys who have 1200 Sporties that have been souped up. We've got guys who have 900s. We have lowriders, Softails. There's a good mix, but I think that most people aspire to get a Street Glide because it's a comfortable ride. It's like driving a Cadillac.


TV Tango: How have you customized your own bike?

Gipsy: My routine custom. I have 18-inch fenders, kind of a swoop design. They're called outlaws. I've put a Screaming Eagle kit on it so it's a little faster. One of the biggest things on my scoot is that I have a suicide shifter, where I don't shift with my foot and my hand on my bars; I have a shifter on the side that has a huge devil head on top of it. That was custom made, and it looks like it has a devil tail coming down.

TV Tango: How and why did the club decide to do a reality series?

Gipsy: When I sat down with Discovery, they asked me what I wanted. I was asked by several people what I wanted from the show. When it first came up, it was kind of a platform to be something out there that wasn't deeming all bikers as criminals.


You have scripted, more entertainment type of shows, like SONS OF ANARCHY, which is a good show, but it gives the public what they want. They want to see violence, they want to see conflict and other stuff like that. But real bikers, not just when they're riding, have real issues as well. Guys have their own family issues or their own little demons, I guess you could say.

You know, the guys who make up the club, the heart and soul of it, are family guys. They're guys with jobs. They have things other than the club. The club is something that brings us all together. Being a biker is more of a lifestyle choice than something you just do on the weekend. I'm a biker 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether I'm on my scoot or I'm off. Most guys in the club feel that same way as well.


[I want the series] just to show that we're not all bad guys. We're approachable. I look a little rough around the edges sometimes, but I still will give anyone the time of day and be like, "Hey, how ya' doing?" If someone takes a moment to talk to me about the club or riding a motorcycle or just shooting the shit with me, I don't treat them like they're lower than I am.


I just want to give the public the idea that there's something else out there besides GANGLAND and what the police portray us to be.

TV Tango: What philanthropic events do the Laffing Devils coordinate, sponsor or take part in?

Gipsy: Over the last five years, we've done several.


One of our founders, Danny Boy, lost a daughter to a drunk driver. He has a charity for his daughter, and basically they do an annual scholarship for a child in high school.


We've done a charity for a young lady, Chelsea King, who was raped and murdered here in San Diego. We did a huge run for her and raised money for her school. She ran track for one of the [local] high schools, and we raised money for her track team so they could do events and support themselves.

We've done [work for] battered women and children. We've done Children's Hospital.


We've done the Josiah Ride for young Josiah, who's the terminally ill child whose only wish was to have 100 motorcycles go by his window because he's bed-ridden. We actually had more than 4,000.


That's just to name a few. If we do two or three runs, it's going to be for two or three different charities. We try to spread the love around, and get as much as possible to those who need it.

TV Tango: You mentioned SONS OF ANARCHY and how it doesn't necessarily reflect a real-life MC, but what about the series does ring true?

Gipsy: I think the cohesion between the members. The dedication to each other. The brotherhood that they show and have. It also kind of depicts that it's not all a bed of roses.


I realize it's scripted, but in some cases the law enforcement realize that these guys aren't as bad as all that. I think that that happens a lot. I think when people finally take the time to know you -- and believe me, I've been looked up and down and investigated by every law enforcement agency in Southern California -- and they just kind of realize, "This guy is not that bad of a guy."

When somebody is involved in your life like that, maybe not face-to-face, they have to take a step back and realize these guys are righteous and not doing the things we thought they were.


Those are the things, at least in my mind, that show up in SONS OF ANARCHY.

TV Tango: Who's your favorite character who rides a motorcycle in any TV show?

Gipsy: [Laughs]. It would have to be Tig. I love his bizarreness in SONS OF ANARCHY.



TV Tango: What's on your DVR?

Gipsy: I watch a lot of history shows, medical shows. I watch a lot of ancient history stuff.

Watch a two-minute preview of THE DEVILS RIDE in the embedded video below: